Co-editor Jeremy Dixon introduces the submission call for Joy//Us, our anthology of poetry celebrating queer joy, and reads a couple of poems that fit the theme, with a short follow up from Cherry Potts about what she is (and isn’t) looking for. If you are thinking of submitting please do so via Submittable before 11th October, and you are welcome to join our free workshops on line in September. Please spread the word!
Queer poet Jeremy Dixon quizzes fellow Arachne poets, Kate Foley and Jane Aldous for the online launch of their new poetry collections, Saved to Cloud, and More Patina Than Gleam, on process, inspiration, being ‘vintage lesbians’ and what their mothers would have thought.
Are you an LGBTQ+ poet? Inspired by our gang of queer poets?
We are well into our tour of workshops for LGBTQ+ poets, with events already held in Liverpool, Edinburgh and London.
Next up, SHEFFIELD July 6th, 6.30pm.
Join co-editor for JOY//US and winner of the Wales Book of the Year English Language Poetry award 2022, Jeremy Dixon, for a short reading to get you in the mood, followed by a workshop of Writing Queer Joy. Produce a first draft of a poem, and take it away to polish it up, and maybe, submit!
Here’s a bit of a poem, the delightful Like My Jealousy performed (in one take) by Jeremy by the side of the A470 at Pen Y Fan.
Future dates Bristol in August, online in September, and we are making enquiries in Wales…
A reminder that the deadline for our JOY//US anthology is 11th October.
Co-editor and winner of 2022 Wales Book of the Year English language Poetry Award, Jeremy Dixon, is running a series of workshops for poets on writing Queer Joy. He’s already done one in Liverpool and one in Edinburgh, and the next one is next Monday, 19th June, in Brixton. Further workshops over the summer are in Sheffield (free) and Bristol (small donation). There are also two online in September (free). Full details on Eventbrite, book now!
Flax, San Francisco, and Pearls over Shanghai
I thought it would be useful to give you all a bit more detail about the authors who have put together our amazing, eclectic anniversary events.
Our second saturday, and we have two events.
We’ve published Elizabeth in our 2018 women only Liars’ League anthology We/She and our 2019 Solstice Shorts anthology Time and Tide, and our 8th anniversary anthology No Spider Harmed in the Making of this Book.
Outside Arachne publications, Elizabeth has written loads of stories which have been published in anthologies and magazines. More recently she has published three books of revisionist mythology, Asexual Fairy Tales, More Asexual Fairy Tales, and Asexual Myths & Tales.
Later in the day at 3pm, we are introducing the call out for Joy//Us, an anthology of LGBTQ poetry, which will be presented by Arachne editor Cherry Potts and Poet, Jeremy Dixon who will be the co-editor; and poet Rick Dove. We publish lots of LGBTQ writers but it feels like time to actually showcase that, and give a bit of focus to the work we are creating with our LGBTQ authors and poets.
Cherry Potts (me!) is the founder/owner of Arachne Press, which she started in a fit of anger after a fall out with her then publisher (a case of I could do it better myself... which I could, but my goodness, I didn’t realise it would be such hard work). She has published an epic lesbian fantasy novel The Dowry Blade and 2 short story collections Tales Told Before Cockcrow and Mosaic of Air, and has numerous stories in anthologies and magazines.
Jeremy Dixon has been published by us consistently, from a single poem in our very first poetry anthology The Other Side of Sleep, and in Solstice Shorts anthology Dusk, and our bilingual anthology A470, via three poems in Liberty Tales, to a poetry pamphlet In Retail, to Jeremy’s first full collection, A Voice Coming From Then which we publishedin August 2021 and WON the poetry category for Wales Book of the Year English Language Poetry. Jeremy is a great supporter of Arachne, providing workshops and hand made books for our crowdfunds.
Rick Dove is joining us to give an additional example of our existing cohort of LGBTQ writers. We published a poem by Rick in Where We Find Ourselves, a long three part family history, which so delighted me I went in search of a biography of Ricks Great Aunt, the first black woman to sing on the BBC!
Rick is a mixed-race, London based poet whose work draws narratives, and styles, from wide influences, always takes a keen interest in both societal and personal change, and how these cardinal forces interact as we grow. A regular performer on the London poetry scene since 2015, Rick has been published in numerous poetry zines and the national press. His first pamphlet, Haigha’s Noosphere Canticles, was published in 2017 by William Cornelius Harris Publishing, and his debut full collection Tales From the Other Box, was published by Burning Eye in 2020. In July 2021, Rick became the UK Poetry Slam Champion for 2021.
Week 2 of the festival, continuing our author-led readings discussions and workshops, and this week we have online events on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon and evening.
Please register via Eventbrite to attend!
Three Takes on Place
readings and discussion from
Diana Powell, Melissa Davies & Sherry Morris
free/donation details and tickets
Tales of Transformation: Bisclavret workshop
£8 details and tickets
and at 3pm
Joy//us – LGBTQ poetry reading, open mic and discussion
Jeremy Dixon, Rick Dove & Cherry Potts
free/donation details and tickets
14 great pickup lines, a poets guide to sonnets workshop
with Jennifer A McGowan
£10 details and tickets
and at 3pm
Barddoniaeth Cymraeg Gweithdy Cyfieuthu/ Welsh poetry translation workshop
with Lowri Williams
participatory workshop on translating Welsh poetry into English
Nod y gweithdy hon yw cyfieuthu cerdd Cymraeg i fewn i’r Saesneg, drwy trafodaeth/cyfieuthu mewn steil grwp
pay what you can £3/5/8 details and tickets
To celebrate our tenth anniversary we are having an online festival throughout January 2023, mostly weekends and Thursdays, although a couple of Tuesdays and Fridays have snuck in.
We invited our authors and friends to run the events they wanted to see, to set their own prices and number of tickets. It’s quite an eclectic mix, readings, discussions and workshops for writers, and about writing, or the business of being a writer. We invite you to join us! Visit the Eventbrite Collection
Saturday 14/01/2023 15:00 reading/open mic/discussion Jeremy Dixon & Cherry Potts
Joy//Us LGBTQ Poetry
40 places free/donation
including 10 open mic spots of 3 mins each – max 2 poems!
details and tickets
Sunday 15/01/2023 15:00-16:30 Lowri Williams
Translating poetry from Welsh into English (workshop)
suitable for advanced learners of Welsh and native speakers.
10 places – pay what you can £3/£5/£8
details and tickets
Tuesday 24/01/23 18:00-19:30 The Business of writing– The Society of Authors This is very kindly being run for us by two of the coordinators of the Society of Authors Poetry & Spoken Word group: Johanna Clarke and Mathilde Zeeman
Sunday 29/01/2023 15:00-16:30 workshop Saira Aspinall
Marketing on a tight budget for writers
12 places £10
details and tickets
All kinds of loveliness and laughter experienced so far on the A Voice Coming From Then Tour. Here’s a quick snapshot from Brecon Carmarthen and Cardiff
Join Jeremy next Thursday 5.45 at Cardiff Library for more…
[There’s an annoying flicker on the Brecon video, I’ve cleaned it up as best I can, and set that part to B&W as it’s less trying, but it’s the sound that’s the joy in this so… you could always shut your eyes…]
Thanks to our lovely audiences, and our hosts, The Hours, Brecon; Waterstones, Carmarthen; and Waterstones, Cardiff.
Today is Suicide Prevention Day. You might think, What’s that got to do with Poetry?
Quite a bit it turns out, for poet Jeremy Dixon, who recently won the Wales Book of the Year Poetry award.
Jeremy’s collection A Voice Coming from Then charts the homophobic bullying he experienced as a teenager and his subsequent suicide attempt, and recovery forging an identity for himself that rejected the negative image he had forced on him by the bullies. Along the way it is heartbreaking and hilarious and joyful.
Reading the poems in manuscript when Jeremy first submitted the collection I was sobbing uncontrollably within pages.
This is the precise response I sent to Jeremy whilst still mopping my tears.
Content warning notwithstanding, you may have to wait a while for a coherent answer, I’m already in tears and I’ve only got to Anne Sexton. Not feeling strong enough for this right now, but if they are all like this, it’s going to be an emphatic YES.
and not much later the same day
And then I had to go back and finish, and of COURSE it’s YES.
I don’t often weep over a MS, but as I know Jeremy a bit from publishing him before and meeting at events, it was probably tougher than reading these from a stranger. Which brings me to the vexed question of Content Warnings.
Jeremy has this to say on the subject in the introduction:
// a note on content warnings
For me content warnings really work. If I am not prepared then sometimes just seeing the word ‘suicide’ has an emotional effect.
And I get it, I really do, I have had a complete melt down from authors sending me (sometimes unsolicited, grrr) graphic distressing material without warning. Some of that is outrage that they think they can do that, at least in a bookshop you’ve chosen to pick the book up, in a MS there’s nothing to indicate what’s there until it’s too late. And I don’t voluntarily read things that are going to upset me, real life is quite sufficient, thanks. BUT it means I probably won’t pick up a book with a content warning on the cover. And other people may think twice too.
When we were recording the audiobook (voiced by the MAGNIFICENT Nigel Pilkington) we cautioned both Nigel and our sound engineer, Jess, that it was potentially an emotional listen, and Jess in particular just shrugged, and said ‘powerful, isn’t it,’ because we had warned her.
The book is peppered with statistics and there are resources at the end.
just one accepting adult
in a LGBTQ+ young person’s life
can reduce the risk
of suicide by 40%
The Trevor Project, 2019
I wanted to be make the book as safe as possible. So as part of that I decided on this, the structure of the poems as couplets so that there would be nothing about the structure or the forms of the poems that would throw people, and then tied to that was the use of statistics to give a kind of grounding to give an overview, to give it a different voice, a research voice, but they were still formatted in the same way as poems so that they’re like tiny, tiny little poems themselves.
Homophobia, bullying, cruelty, suicide attempts… hard, hard things to experience, hard to write about, but in Jeremy’s careful, compassionate hands, emotional, but rewarding, cathartic and inspiring.
As Andy Welch one of the judges of the Wales Book of the Year said during the announcement on Radio Wales,
It just took me aback completely. It was so shocking, but something so beautiful to come out of it.
And Jeremy at the launch of the book said this:
I wonder if [writng the book] is another form of potential protection… in some ways, it’s been a very healing process… once the poem’s written, and especially when it’s in a book, there’s another distancing. I think for me this relates to the book as an object. It’s like everything is contained in that book now, so I don’t need to carry it around with me anymore.
So if, like me, you shy away from a content warning, be encouraged, this is a generous kindly book that doesn’t want to steep you in trauma, it wants to share recovery and particular joy of looking back at a tough time and realising it really is the past, and that by writing about that past we can change our future.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) aims to prevent male suicide in the UK.
The Compassionate Friends offers many different kinds of support for bereaved families.
CRUSE Bereavement Care provides support
and counselling to those suffering from grief.
An international anti-bullying charity.
Welsh charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers.
Help for those who feel life is not worth living.
Offers suicidal adults free short-term stays in a safe and caring environment.
Offers support and advice to young people at risk of suicide.
Dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can
lead to suicide.
The Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) supports all those bereaved or affected by suicide.
The world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for LGBTQ+ youth.